Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

 

kitty hawk by Iain reading review
Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold | Book 1 Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency
Author: Iain Reading
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Publication Date: December 3, 2012
Genre: Fiction | Adventure | Middle Grade | Young Adult | Mystery

About Kitty Hawk: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Thank you to Book Publicity Services for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: KITTY HAWK AND THE CURSE OF THE YUKON GOLD is the perfect blend of adventure, mystery, and history – from Kitty being kidnapped chasing down gold thieves, immersed in the rich history of the Yukon (Klondike) Gold Rush, to climbing the summit of Chilkoot Pass – I was hooked from the get-go! The storyline resonated with me because I live in British Columbia and have a keen interest in the Alaskan wilderness and a longtime love of whales dating back to my childhood dreams of becoming a marine biologist.

The story begins with a double prologue, one of which has nothing to do with the story but may tie in to other books in the series… Kitty is a passionate seaplane pilot who wants to spend her summer in Alaska studying the migration route of humpback whales between her hometown of Tofino, British Columbia and Juneau, Alaska. She reaches out to a local travel clothing company for sponsorship. Dreams do come true and Kitty packs up her De Havilland Beaver and flies to Juneau to stay with her best friend’s relatives. Kitty spends her days soaring above the water photographing the whales and gathering data to share in a joint venture with a couple of universities. Her curiosity gets the better of her when she deliberately stumbles upon a group of gold thieves who take her hostage. There is a crescendo of amazing plot twists that lead to an unexpected alliance and friendship that makes this story so likeable.

Kitty brings a fresh and contemporary verve to the middle grade and young adult genres where girls are often portrayed as anxiety ridden products from broken families and overbearing parents. Kitty is unabashed, ambitious, and sharp – she’s the whole delightful, charming package!

Every young girl should have a fictional character she aspires to be one day and Kitty Hawk is it! This book is appropriate for all ages and I cannot wait to read Book 2, Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost!

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Review: The Brutal Telling

The Brutal Telling
Title:
The Brutal Telling | Book 5 Inspector Gamache Series
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
Genre: Fiction | Mystery

About The Brutal Telling: Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.

No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?

As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.

Review: Welcome back to the remote village of Three Pines. A place you stumble upon accidentally. A quaint and charming village brimming with eccentric folks with a penchant for attracting murder.

The Brutal Telling is the pivotal book in the Inspector Gamache series. Penny sets aside her gentler and drawn out mystery that I grew accustomed to in the previous four books. She severs the coziness of Three Pines and instills a hard edge leaving me pondering its future when Gamache arrests one of Three Pines beloved. And I loved it! Up to this point the series was inching towards blandness but Penny quickly thwarted the hum-drums.

The murder trail leads Gamache to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) to meet with indigenous people’s and investigate totem poles. The plot is infused in rich detail and cultural inspiration and I was drawn to the references of Emily Carr’s paintings about vanishing indigenous cultures in British Columbia.

Review: Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis
Title:
Sweet Little Lies | Book 1 Heartbreaker Bay Series
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Contemporary

About Sweet Little Lies: Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

Review: Whoa, reader be warned, Sweet Little Lies is S-T-E-A-M-Y in every good way possible! I needed time to catch my breath and fan my hot, flushed face before writing this review.

The first book in Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay Series, gorgeous Pru is making wishes at the historic fountain in her courtyard for sexy Finn to find true love with anyone but herself. Pru is no good for Finn – she’s holding onto a secret that is sure to drive him the opposite direction. The two are perfect for each other and everyone knows it but Finn is a work-a-holic tending to O’Riley’s, the pub he runs with his brother and Pru can’t bear the thought of hurting Finn and keeps him at arms distance.  Or at least she tries to but when an ultra sexy couple are meant to be together there’s no denying sparks are going to fly.

Sweet Little Lies is every bit charming, romantic and oh so sizzling hot! Shalvis’ books have fast become the palette cleansers I need in between heavier reads. Add this one to your reading list!

The Heartbreaker Bay Series – Each book is a standalone
Sweet Little Lies
The Trouble with Mistletoe
One Snowy Night
Accidentally on Purpose
Chasing Christmas Eve
Holiday Wishes
About that Kiss
Slow Winter Nights

Book Review: Savages

IMG_2582Title: Savages
Author: Don Winslow
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: January 1, 2010

From Simon & Schuster: Ben, Chon, and O are twentysomething best friends living the dream in Southern California. Together they have made a small fortune producing premium grade marijuana, a product so potent that the Mexican Baja Cartel demands a cut. When Ben and Chon refuse to back down, the cartel kidnaps O, igniting a dizzying array of high-octane negotiations and stunning plot twists as they risk everything to free her. The result is a provocative, sexy, and darkly engrossing thrill ride, an ultracontemporary love story that will leave you breathless.

My Review: Having read Winslow’s recent book, The Force and previously The Power of the Dog, and The Cartel, I wanted to keep the momentum alive so I picked up one of his earlier books. SAVAGES is a hybrid of Winslow’s astute analysis of the Mexican Cartel and ultra-modern love story of a super hot trio residing in the surfing community of Laguna Beach.

Ben, Chon, and O are thick as thieves and an unbreakable bond. Ben is smooth and laid back. He studied botany and marketing at UC Berkeley. He is an intelligent philanthropist with a penchant for Third World countries. Chon is ex-Navy SEALs and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s a badass with ‘baditude’. O, short for Ophelia is a beauty with mesmerizing blue eyes. She takes each day as it comes fending off boredom with shopping trips and frequenting beauty salons. Ben and Chon are her boys and her lovers. She’s the thread that draws the three together.

Chon brings home potent marijuana seeds from Afghanistan and Ben develops a new breed aptly named Ultra White Widow. One toke of the high-class UWW is all that’s needed to get a serious high. The stuff has yielded millions of dollars and the boys want to close up shop and cash out.  But the Baja Cartel wants in and they aren’t taking no for an answer.  Up to this point the vibe has been Orange County-esque but when the BC abducts O the story shifts into a highly charged, plot driven drama between savages and the less savage. I’m adding The Kings of Cool, the prequel to Savages to my reading list.

Book Review: Need to Know

A5B73AE4-B856-422A-91DC-D34D777BD440Title: Need to Know
Author: Karen Cleveland
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 23, 2018

From Doubleday: Vivian and Matt are a seemingly normal suburban couple, experiencing the same struggles as many North American families: juggling work and children, budgeting for a house in a decent school district. They’re in love and life is good. Though Vivian can’t share much about her CIA assignment with him, Matt has always been supportive, and his job as a software engineer allows him the flexibility needed to raise their four kids. But when she makes a startling discovery researching the CIA’s Russian account, everything about her life and her marriage is cast in a new light–forcing her to make impossible and dangerous choices before she loses her job, her family and her life.

I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my own review. #partner #penguincanada

My Review: NEED TO KNOW has high ratings and top author accolades so I’m in the minority with my review. This is a super-charged CIA / espionage read with an intense premise. When Vivian uncovers a Russian spy ring on U.S. soil she’s on the precipice of danger and losing her career and family.

The good: I love a good CIA spy novel. This one is plot driven with a female lead who I can relate to as a wife and mom. Cleveland cleverly delivers a major wallop in Chapter 2 and I absolutely needed to know more!

The bad: The characters were thinly developed. Vivian has a kick-ass career. It’s not every day I meet a CIA analyst, especially one uncovering Russian sleeper cells so I think Cleveland missed the mark on the main character and narrator of the story. Also, Vivian is ridiculously naive in her personal life yet incredibly savvy professionally which didn’t add up for me.

It was an entertaining enough read and paced quickly enough with short chapters to keep me engaged. The ending was a cliffhanger and left me wondering if there will be a sequel.

 

 

Book Review: A Fatal Grace

EFA28756-F551-4215-A7CC-7E08CED6222ETitle: A Fatal Grace
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2011

From Minotaur: Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.
No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.
When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Quebec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?
With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Quebec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves. But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself.

My Review: I fell in love with the remote village of Three Pines during Still Life, Louise Penny’s first novel in the Inspector Gamache Series and I’m so glad to be back in this second instalment, A Fatal Grace. Three pines is a charming community full of the most eccentric characters you will meet. For all their quirks they are a warm and loyal bunch. And what’s not to love about Inspector Gamache? His stoicism, compassion, and courage command your respect and his endearing wife, Reine-Marie are the perfect pair – a lovely couple you wish you knew in real life.

Inspector Gamache and his team return to Three Pines investigating the peculiar murder of unlikable CC de Poitiers. An impossibly unpleasant woman who intimidated her husband and belittled her obese daughter, CC was electrocuted on a frozen pond in front of the townspeople but no one noticed because they were too busy watching the Christmas curling tournament.

Penny has a penchant for keeping me guessing to the end and coming back for more.  Another superbly written gentle mystery, this series grows by leaps and bounds with every new instalment.

Book Review: The Force

y648Title: The Force
Author: Don Winslow
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

From William Morrow: All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.
He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

My Review: The New York Police Department – Corruption. Drugs. Gangs. Riots. Tension. If this sounds like a cliche, it’s not. This book is about the elite Manhattan North Special Task Force also known as ‘Da Force’ and ‘The Kings’ that run it – Malone, Russo, Montague, Levin, and O’Neill. These guys go after the drugs and guns, they keep some of the drugs for themselves and pad their nest eggs with the money. So long as the right people get their kickbacks nobody says anything because corruption breeds corruption.

Sergeant Denny Malone is your stereotypical NYPD detective; descended from an Irish hero cop on the verge of divorcing his Irish wife, he wears tattoo sleeves and drinks Jameson whisky. His girlfriend is a mess, often high and can’t get clean. Denny’s the king of kings – revered by the department and feared on the streets. At his core he’s true to himself, his family, his brother cops, The Job, and his city but years working the drug task force have beat him down and blurred the lines between right and wrong, loyalty and betrayal, morality and immorality.

The story opens with Denny locked up in a federal correctional facility followed by a singular event that will torment him to the last page and serve as his fall from grace. Everything else is about how Denny got to this place. At 400+ pages the first half is a slow burn rich in the essentials and nuances of the force – the drug deals, snitches, mandatory bowling nights, the comped dinners and visits to high end brothels. There’s a certain cache that comes with being on the task force but it comes at a high price.  The guys are on the front line which is risky business and take the emotional brunt often leading to drug use to get thru the days. The second half is mind-blowing as Denny spirals out of control taking the whole system down with him.

Winslow masters two things: he illustrates evocative images, characters, and lingo right down to the New York accent and creates an edgy connection where you normally would never go.  Yes, I sidled up to Malone and had a love / hate relationship with a dirty cop! I plunged into uncharted territory and I liked it. Maybe that’s why The Force reads like a true story even though it’s fiction.

Put this one at the top of your reading list. You won’t be disappointed.